The owner of a Valley restaurant chain has pleaded not guilty to forging employee information.
Owner Bret Frimmel, 40, made his plea Tuesday on two counts of forgery, four counts of identity theft and four counts of trafficking an identity of another person.
The restaurant manager, Lisa Norton, 53, was also arrested last month on two charges of tracking the identity of another, three counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's investigation began in October 2012 after they received a tip of illegal hiring practices at Uncle Sam's restaurant.
Authorities executed a search warrant on July 17, 2013. The business has three locations: 18913 N. 83rd Ave., 3217 E. Shea Blvd., and 13325 E. Cochise Rd.
Five of the nine suspects said Frimmel knowingly hired employees that were using forged identities to work, MCSO said.
According to MCSO, some of Frimmel's workers claimed he made comments to employees to "bring in undocumented friends because they work the most and he could pay them the least."
Witnesses also allege Frimmel hired the employees without providing a valid identification or Social Security number and provided ADP with false numbers. Norton allegedly knew of Frimmel's illegal activity.
Frimmel's next court date is oral arguments to modify release conditions which will be held on Wednesday.
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